Many churches and parachurches are evaluating the question of their vision and mission. What is it that we can give up without compromising our mission as we live in the world of the Coronavirus? Now, you have to take what I’m writing as coming from a person who has a medium-to-high tolerance for risk and a low tolerance for stupidity. That is, I typically do not take uncalculated risks for the sake of risk, but I am more than willing to risk everything for the mission.
In my mind, mission critical is the declaration of God’s glory to the nations, whatever the cost, whatever the risk. That has not changed and the Coronavirus will not impact it. God demands that His glory be declared and it will be declared whether or not we participate. Yet, He still calls us all to participate.
Now is not a time to cower away. Now is a time to empower people to use their gifts (2 Tim 1:3-6), inspire them to join in hardship (2 Tim 1:8-14), entrust them to teach faithful people to carry on the mission (2 Tim 2:1-7), and remind them to preach the word in season and out of season (2 Tim 3:16-4:2). These are mission critical to me.
Observation About our Current Reality
Here are a few observations that came to mind during my morning run.
- God is on mission. That will not change and in His sovereignty, good will result in the world (Rom 8:28).
- We must stay on mission. This has not changed. We are still adopted into His family for the explicit purpose to join with Him in uniting all things in Christ (Eph 1:10).
- There is no such thing as a new normal. Yes, things might look different. We might behave differently to our family, friends, and neighbors. Work might look different. However, change is still inevitable. In fact, that is the normal and God still uses it for His purposes. What might look different now, in 20-30 years might not be recognizable to us.
- Jesus has not changed. He is the same today, yesterday, and for all of eternity (Heb 13:8). Rest in His immutability in the midst what we feel is chaos.
- The church must adapt while staying on mission. Here are a few resources that will help us think through what that might look like.
Second Timothy is a wonderful letter that helps me redirect my attention away from the dangers that I face and to a God who is faithful. As Paul writes from a darkened prison cell awaiting his death, he has not cowered from the mission critical. Indeed, by his example, he encourages Timothy to stay on mission:
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing . . . But the Lord stood by me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into His heavenly kingdom. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (2 Tim 4:6-8, 17-18; emphasis added)